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Cost of Lost Trust & Runaway Supermen

December 20, 2012

Political agitation intensified in Bangladesh from the very beginning of December. Strikes called by BNP and Jamaat hurt pretty badly the day to day affairs of ordinary people. The recent strikes were more violent than the earlier ones.

But anarchy started at the previous nights of strikes. Party leaders let the party cadres loose on the streets. They set the vehicles ablaze, broke the windowpane of cars and attacked the Police. A blanket of fear covered the city life.

For each misdeed there was a price tag. There were news reports that Jamaat doled out cashes among party cadres, who already poised to do havoc, to bring the country into a political quagmire. For instance, according to a news report, beating a Policeman could bring a Jamaat cadre an amount ranging from TK 3000 to TK 5000, which was set by Jamaat leaders.

But what caught everyone’s attention was the death of a tailor named Biswajit. In broad day light, he was butchered by goons. Initially, the news reports identified the killers as ruling party cadres, but follow-up news reports confirmed that the cadres had a murky past and had teamed up with BNP-Jamaat regime when they were in power.

But the brutal footage and the pictures of Biswajit murder were widely publicized. Even media houses who never show horrific images broadcast footage and published pictures of Bishwajit’s last moments. The whole country was shocked.

Many questioned the role of journalists in this incident. What was more important? Saving Biswajit or taking his photo? The killers spared the journalists who took their pictures!!

Jamaat-Shibir’s vandalism and this brute campus clash are just a reminder that there is a force that just let this incident continue to step in at the opportune moment.

Derailing democracy is mutually beneficial for both Jamaat-shibir and this opportunist force. For Jamaat, it will mean a full stop to the ongoing war crime trial. For the opportunist force, it will mean the demise of pro-Indian and secular Awami League regime.

We have already seen that there are relentless efforts to delay the trial. Hacking of skype conversation between a tribunal judge and a person resided in Belgium was the latest one. A professional solicitation has been made a huge issue to question the credibility of the tribunal.

In this month, we also witnessed the strike observed by Communist party and like minded parties. It was called to ban religious and communal parties like Jamaat-i-Islami (JI). Everyone applauded its non-violent nature. Not a single vehicle was torched, not a single stone was thrown at a bus. Young comrades warmed the streets and important crossings with their guitars and songs.

In this backdrop, Bangladesh celebrated its 41st victory day on the 16th December. From ‘basket case’ it has become a success story. But the growth has yet to trickle down to the bottom segment of the society. Due to growing income inequality, corruption and political instability, some developing and developed country are reaping the full benefits of Bangladesh’s success story!

Cost of Lost Trust

Recently, Washington based Global Financial Integrity published a report titled Illicit Financial Flows from Developing Countries: 2001-2010 that says huge amount of money has been laundered from Bangladesh in 2006 and in 2010.

Both these years were very panicky years. 2006 was the last year of the BNP-Jamaat regime. During the tenure, the regime indulged in corruption, Hawa-bhavan was at the center of debate, and promoted Islamist extremism and extra-judicial killing to subdue the opposition. In the last panicky year of their tenure, many, including Begum Zia’s sons, laundered money abroad.

Then there was a 2-year-long army backed emergency rule when many politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen lost their accumulated fortunes at the hands of army.

In 2010, the country just witnessed its biggest stock market debacle and the year before renegade BDR jawans killed several army officers. Many belief that the stock market crash and BDR massacre were the repercussions of the emergency rule. After the two incidents, there was a growing fear that there would be another emergency rule. No wonder that a huge capital flight took place in 2010.

Few years back when Iran detained few British navy crews when they crossed the Iranian maritime boundary, everyone was anticipating a war in the gulf. This panic led the small gulf countries like Qatar to transfer huge amount of capital into Swiss banks.

So creating panic in the least-developed and developing countries really pays in the long run.

According to a capital market expert, Bangladesh is now the second biggest client of Malaysia’s ‘Second Home Program’. Apart from Malaysia, USA, UK, UAE and Switzerland are preferred destinations of Bangladeshi capital flight. Unlike the Qatari transfer, these are permanent capital flight. But what is about the human capital flight?

Countries like Canada and Australia are benefiting from Bangladesh’s subsidized higher secondary and tertiary level education! Every year thousands of graduates migrate permanently to these countries.

In one single phrase, you can simply call this capital flight the cost of lost trust.

Malegaon Spirit

I celebrated the victory day my way. I went to the Short film festival and watched a beautiful docu titled ‘The Superman of Malegaon’. It is about the film industry of an Indian suburb called Malegaon.

I first came to learn about this industry from a travel show called ‘Paul Merton in India’, showed on Fox Traveler. Malegaon is a small town which has a power-loom industry. Residents earn their bread by working in this industry. Frequent power cuts make their lives difficult, but they find their comfort in their own films.

A cinephile Sheikh Nasir and his team started Malegaon film industry from scratch. They have nothing but love for films. When Nasir was out with his film crew, the whole neighborhood was with him. It was just like a picnic. With a handy cam Nasir and his associates remade Hollywood blockbusters like Superman and 007 James Bond for their own home crowds. And their business is booming. It’s just like the story of Jack Black’s ‘Be Kind Rewind’ film. At the end of the day when Nasir sees house full video room where he screens his films, he feels confident and plans for his next blockbuster.

Bangladesh is just like that little Malegaon. But her highly educated youths are leaving the county in growing numbers in search of a utopian paradise. What she lacks is the Malegaon spirit—-its can-do attitude.

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